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Tips & Tricks

10 Things to Avoid Doing in Photoshop

By Shivani Reddy on October 30th 2016

We are a part of a critical industry, where everything created is subject to scrutiny and judgement to the harshest extent, which is why education plays such a large role in our professional advancement. Tutvid has compiled a list of “Photoshop Faux-Pas” meant to help you avoid the major ‘don’ts’ of post production, whether that be over-retouching or improper technique when handling this advanced software.

[REWIND: Photoshop Tip | Split Your Screen For One Image To Maximize Efficiency]

Disclaimer: some of these images are cringe-worthy, but hopefully that hammers the point home.

1. Bevel and Emboss (1:28)


The use, and more importantly, over-use, of the bevel and emboss filter is a tell-tale sign of a novice Photoshop user. There might be some conditions that make the action passable, but 99% of the time it’s an outdated feature that doesn’t provide much purpose in common times.

2. Selective Color (4:40)


This is probably the most universally agreed upon cliche action in Photoshop. What might have been a ‘cool trend’ for a hot minute back in 2008 is definitely no longer a desired effect. Throw this in the bin where the rest of your railroad track images reside, because that’s where it belongs. Shoot great photos, avoid selective color.

3. Over-Whitening Teeth (6:25)


Although teeth can stand to be brightened up a bit, de-saturating and changing the temperature and color can make them appear too edited. The key to this is moderation but overall, and exposure adjustment will do the trick. You can blend the exposure layer mask with a reduction of opacity.

4. Exporting any Code for Web Design (8:51)


This is hard to visually show, however, when you export HTML code from Photoshop and you can also right-click on almost any layer and choose to “Copy CSS” which will allow you to get the CSS code used to build that object on the web. This code is almost always too complex (more than 95% of the time) and understandably so considering developers can’t pinpoint the utility of your specific code. Your efforts are better spent learning to write code than relying on this feature.

5. Too much HDR/Unsharp Mask/High Pass/Clarity (10:17)


You can use tools like the Clarity slider or Unsharp Mask to add a bit of midtone punch to any image. As always, moderation is advised when adding in clarity, HDR effects and High Pass effects. This is when the Opacity slider comes in handy, to really fine tune your settings to avoid over sharpening an image past a recognizable point.

6. Destructive Healing (13:28)


Remember when I said cringeworthy, this was what I was warning you about, so you’re welcome. The mark of a novice Photoshop user is destructive editing, and even though Ctrl/Command + Z is an option, why not just avoid making this mistake all together. Always create a new layer first, even if it’s a small retouch job, it isn’t worth accidentally ruining your original image. Use your Clone Stamp, Patch tool, and Healing Brushes to sample on all layers and paint the retouching bits on the new layer.

7. Applying Adjustments Directly to an image (15:51)


The same idea applies from the previous action, destructive editing on the original image isn’t advised. In almost every case it’s a much better to use an Adjustment Layer to apply an effect to your image in Photoshop. With Adjustment Layers you have a wide variety of actions to choose from to manipulate the photo: you can reduce the opacity of a layer, mask it to just one part of the photo, or change the blend mode of the Adjustment Layer to create a cool effect.

8. Applying Filters DIRECTLY TO AN IMAGE (17:26)


Not to beat a dead horse, but applying filters directly to the original image isn’t advised either. Right-click on any layer you wish to apply a filter to and choose “Convert to Smart Object” before you apply a filter. When Photoshop adds a filter to a Smart Object, it uses a “Smart Filter” which appears in the Layers panel and you can always go back and adjust or delete later on.

9. Not using TypeKit! (20:00)


If you are a Creative Cloud subscriber check out TypeKit instead of spending countless hours searching and downloading fonts online. This is a free service available with your CC membership that not many utilize. Go to Type>Add Fonts from TypeKit and browse the library of fonts and simply sync whatever fonts you want to use with Photoshop and they will appear in your font drop down menu.

10. Bad Selection Edges for a Composite (22:12)


This is easily the most commonly utilized function in Photoshop, especially for those conducting compositing jobs. There is always a chance you will miss the small gaps between hair, or even the space between an arm and a body, which is the true mark of mediocrity. Tutvid actually has a tutorial specifically for advanced edge selection, check it out here.

Source: Tutvid

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Shivani wants to live in a world where laughter is the cure to pretty much everything. Since she can’t claim “Serial Bingewatcher” as an occupation, she’ll settle for wedding/portrait photographer at Lin and Jirsa & marketing coordinator here at SLR Lounge. For those rare moments when you won’t find a camera in her hand, she will be dancing, eating a donut, or most likely watching Seinfeld.

Follow her on Instagram: @shivalry_inc

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Michael LaPointe

    #3 -Teeth Whitening.. yes, you actually DO want to desaturate, but the trick is to ONLY desaturate the yellows. Open a Hue/Saturation layer, change “Master” to “Yellows” and slide Saturation slider left to -100. If you want, change back to “Master” and slide the Lightness up to +10 or so.. mask out everything then paint in your effect. Bingo Bango Bongo, white, natural looking teeth.

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  2. Chris Campbell

    I agree about the destructive editing (unless you’ve already made a copy of your file, then feel free to do whatever you want), bad selections, etc. but the items about filters and selective color and stuff…that is lame to me.

    In art, everything has it’s place. So you think selective color is played out…that’s all well and good, but not everyone shares this thought and sometimes, it works in an image. It’s like saying not to use blues riffs because it’s not hip anymore. I agree whole-heartedly with telling people not to do things that may hurt them or their art in the future (teaching the right way to use photoshop)…but from an artistic standpoint, my philosophy is “do you”. That’s what art is for. Otherwise, everyone’s photos would look the same. We’d all use the rule of thirds, and no selective color/filters, with no bokeh because that’s also overdone nowadays and all these other things we should avoid at all costs according to articles.

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  3. John Bergholm

    Your article is entitled “10 Things to Avoid in Photoshop”. By number six you are telling us to avoid “non-destructive edits”. Is that what you really mean? Numbers seven and eight are similarly advising us to avoid actions that you actually want us to do. Otherwise, a decent article.

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